sail log 2008


The first weekend out


Mast raising




Windy Week


Return home

other information

Harbour master Conwy
Harbour Office, Conwy Quay, Conwy,
LL32 8BB
tel: 01492 596253

Windy Week, 30th July

A bit delayed with family members not feeling well during the start of the week (when the sun visible), we arrived in Conwy on the Tuesday evening (29th). The forecast didn't spell much good; deepening low pressure above Ireland, wind F4 to F5 from SW, increasing to F6/F7 later .

Calm before the storm Calm before the storm

The plan was to get out of Conwy and check the roughness of the sea. If not too bad we would continue to Beaumaris. At 12:15 we slipped to mooring and motored out to C9 and put the sails up. Near Puffin the outboard was switched on to push us in time over the bar east of Perch Rock. We continued to tack towards Beaumaris in an SW F5. A problem with the jib made us motor from B3 to Beaumaris.

The skipper at work The skipper at work

At 16:20 we arrived in Beaumaris under a F7 and the mooring was rough. Tea was cooked and around 19:00 we continued to Bangor. The wind had dropped to a F2 and we borrowed a mooring at Garth Point.

Beaumaris mid summer Beaumaris mid summer

Windy Week, 31st July

The next morning we rowed ashore to visit Bangor. The programme was filled with

  • Coffee and fresh scones (the best in Wales) on Bangor pier
  • a visit to closed down playground (H&S) and from which were sent away
  • a visit to the Roman fort on top of a hill providing beautiful views over the Menai Strait.

Visit to Bangor Visit to Bangor with Sea Ghost in the back ground.

Returning to Sea Ghost, we slipped our (borrowed) mooring at 13:30 to find fine sailing weather (F4 from SW) and we tacked towards Menai. At 14:20 we continued on the motor as the block on the throat halyard kept twisting itself, requiring a climb in the mast to get the sails down. The issue was resolved by blocking the swivel's ability to eh ... swivel.

Leaving Bangor under sail Leaving Bangor under sail

We arrived 30 minutes before LW slack at the Menai bridge. The water was calm (3 days before a spring tide) and we continued to navigate through the Swellies.

The boat shop Arriving in Caernarfon The boat shop                                                 Arriving in Caernarfon

Meryl & Timo set up a shop in the bow, while we slowly continued on the motor towards Caernarfon. We arrived alongside the outer city wall around 16:20. The tide was out and Caernarfon harbour completely dries out. We picked up a courtesy mooring in the Strait and found ourselves exposed to a strong South Westerly.

Caernarfon harbour Caernarfon harbour

Various calls on VHF to to the Harbour Master to enquire about the operation of the swing bridge got no reply. A mobile phone call did work however and the swing bridge is apparently operated until 23:00. This was the time to get the trumpet out, and the kids sat on the foredeck attempting to blow a consistent -... in Morse to wake the bridge master up. Not sure what unknown insults we sent out in Morse but the bridge swung open and a majestic view opened where Sea Ghost sailed slowly into the medieval harbour and moored next to the Castle walls.

Wet sunset in Caernarfon Wet sunset in Caernarfon

We walked to through a wet town and settled on a floating restaurant for an evening meal. A late sun came out providing beautiful views towards Anglesey.

Last sun on the Caernarfon wall Wet evening Last sun on the Caernarfon wall                       Wet evening return to the boat

We got back to Sea Ghost at HW (where the deck of the boat levels with the top of the Quay). During the night we would drop 4 meters to settle on the mud and to come back up again for breakfast.

Windy Week, 1st August

Breakfast 1 Breakfast 2 Breakfast in the morning

A home made canvas cover over the boom was excellent to keep the cockpit dry, but we had breakfast inside. Plan A was to leave at 09:00 to arrive at HW slack in the Swellies. Plan B was to arrive at the Swellies at LW slack around 17:00. We decided for plan B.

Force 7 Force 7 made us flee for the marina

Plan B was the wrong choice. A F7 was blowing down the strait against the tide, which produces large waves. We both knew the expression "Wind over Tide& but we had never seen the effect. We were about to find out.

Out of the shelter of Caernarfon harbour with a storm jib and the motor on, the full force pushed us towards Port Dinorwic. With the wind behind us, the waves threatened to overrun the outboard from behind and decision was made, with Caernarfon just behind us, to return and seek shelter.

As soon as we turned into the wind, we were bashed around from the top of the wave crests into the troughs, 2 meters down. If the engine cut out, we would be in deep shit. We rushed towards the marina and just managed to push inside before the current tried to sweep Sea Ghost against the stone quays.

Caernarfon marina at night Caernarfon marina at night

Slightly shaken, we moored in Caernarfon marina against another yacht. Maybe involuntarily, but alive, we spent another day in Caernarfon.

Windy Week, 2nd August

The next morning, the plan was the to make sure we had the tide with us and we left the marina at 09:15. Around 09:30 the motor was switched off and we sailed beautifully up to the Swellies with a F4 behind us.

Going through the Swellies Going through the Swellies

At 10:45 we picked up a mooring in Menai while the tide was still peaceful. A regatta was about to start and we enjoyed the start signals for which a tiny little canon was used. Back at the boat, mooring line had twisted itself around the keel and it took nearly 45 minutes to get it sorted.

Start of the regatta in Menai Start of the regatta in Menai Start of the regatta in Menai

We left Menai towards Beaumaris on a run, while the wind was increasing again. Gybing was not safe anymore. Sea Ghost is not as agile as the small boats we used to sail and we found out, close to some rocks, that she looses most of her speed during a chicken gybe. That bit where you decide to steer towards the rocks to increase speed for a proper tack was putting pressure on the already tense nerves.

At around 14:10 we moored in Beaumaris, but again exposed to a strong wind, we checked the tides and decided to make for Conwy, to spend the last day enjoying the festival taking place on Sunday. All was fine until we turned away from Puffin towards Conwy. The waves were large and bashed us around. The Conwy channel came slowly closer. Conwy sand were still covered with water which has been a sign up to now that we could still safely pass.

When we thought we could still reach Conwy When we thought we could still reach Conwy

At around 17:00 near C6, the sea changed colour to light brown and Sea Ghost scraped the ground twice. This was a clear sign for me to turn her around. The prospect of heading all the way back against the wind, towards Beaumaris was not great, but we had little choice. The family took shelter inside while I battled the waves against the wind on the motor alone.

Is that a sandbank? that what they call a sandbank?

As the tide was out we had to go around Puffin (18:00) but at least the waves decreased in size. The petrol supply as well, and I got slightly nervous that we would still have to tack a few hours against the wind. We passed two yachts run aground, which raised morale again, as apparently one could still be in a more miserable position as we were. We arrived at 19:30 in Beaumaris. With the tide out we picked another exposed mooring.

I will get there..I will get there.. I will get there..I will get there..I will...

Rowing ashore in the evening, Meryl and I walked 1 mile to the one petrol station which was closed. Which was good news otherwise I would have to carry 15 liters of petrol the 1 mile back, but the low in petrol problem remained pretty much intact.

Windy Week, 3rd August

Rowing ashore in the morning, I made the 1 mile trip again to the petrol station. Successfully this time and got back to the boat. This new petrol was however not helping to start the engine. It wouldn't start at all and after 1.5 hours of trying, the time window in which we would have been able to get back to Conwy had disappeared.

Moral at a low Moral at a low

The only choice left was to leave the Sea Ghost behind on somebody else's mooring and travel back by public transport. Not the successful ending of a the windy week we had in mind.